Welcome to the last issue of your favourite health news read for 2021 good people! As autumn rapidly morphs into winter with parts of the country having this past weekend now had a smattering of the white stuff, once again the dreaded virus dominates my thread with the following that caught my eye during the past month –
2nd Nov’s Metro newspaper ran a quite sobering headline of ‘ Death risk 32 times higher for unjabbed’
2nd Nov’s industry mag Cover’s Annual Protection & Health Summit Conference – held at The Brewery in Central London.
This industry day was superbly introduced with a truly inspirational speech by Alan Chambers MBE, serial North & South Pole explorer! Key points noted were –
Next Andy Manson from Aegon suggested that “the UK financial market is broken”, advising that the intermediary’s role is to “make their clients happier!”
An excellent piece next up from VitalityHealth’s Dr. Kaly Tyron flagged some excellently researched stats regarding lifespan, including –
A speaker from Guardian Brokers then confirmed some interesting Vaccine stats –
Likely polarisation due to cultural superstitions, with less trust of a foreign govt.’s initiatives.
We were then treated to a PMI Panel suggesting that more headway is being made in the corporate space with insurers transferring certificates electronically.
Next up was Vitality’s Commercial Head, Pippa, who summarised more interesting pandemic stats as detailed in their new ‘Healthy Hybrid’ brochure –
Pippa concluded that “it would be a bumpy road back to the office.”
Covering Mental Health next, this seminar highlighted that we are taught to – read, write & speak, during our lives, however normally receiving no formal training to LISTEN! Even though we spend 42% of our time doing so. “Listening is how we get the information that we need, although most are busy thinking about what they want to say next”. Concluding that the power of silence is to be emphasised.
9th Nov’s Time magazine’s article entitled ‘Many COVID-19 Survivors Still Can’t Smell or Taste. Treating Them Isn’t Easy.’ – Carolyn Hinds, aged 38, is quoted as “barely able to smell anything, with her sense of taste remaining warped, with sweet things leaving a strange after-taste, salty foods upsetting her stomach, with spice making her lips tongue burn, however tasting nothing. After 10 months doctors have stated that they are still at a loss as to how to treat her. “I’m kind of thinking that this is how it will be forever” Hinds says. “That capability to partake in this simple pleasure of life really starts to weigh upon people and detracts from their overall quality of life, even leading to depression, anxiety & social withdrawal” says Dr. Zara Patel, a head & neck surgeon, as well as a smell-loss expert from Stanford University. “Smell is also linked to a number of important subconscious processes, like choosing romantic partners and parent-child bonding.” Patel further explains that loss of smell can also affect safety concerns like “not noticing that food has gone bad or failing to smell smoke when there’s a fire.”
16th Nov’s BBC News reported ‘Why the NHS is Struggling like Never Before’ – When the pandemic hit, about a quarter of adults in the UK were living with chronic illnesses. With support & care disrupted, and with Covid making people more isolated & less active, their health has subsequently suffered. According to those working within the NHS, they are now turning up to hospital in even greater numbers. This, as much as Covid itself, is driving the rise in demand upon the NHS.
At Newcastle’s Royal Victoria hospital, they are seeing more frail elderly people being admitted as well as significant numbers of people with alcohol and mental health related problems. Like at nearly all hospitals, A&E waiting times have worsened and quality of care is suffering, with patients spending hours on trolleys due to an unavailability of beds.
The service was struggling before the pandemic hit, with targets routinely being missed in all parts of
the UK. The NHS was being run “at its limit”, says Chris Hopson, of NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts, who continues that “he believes that the NHS is heading for the most difficult winter in its history.” This is not just about the past couple of years though – the situation has been a decade in the making, with UK public spending running at little more than 30% of the average spend since the formation of the NHS in 1949, since 2010. A&E waiting times are now at their worst levels since records began nearly 20 years ago, with 25% waiting longer than the govt. directive of 4 hours to be seen.
17th Nov’s A.M.I.I. (Association of Medical Insurers & Intermediaries) Annual Summit Conference – held in Westminster, Central London.
Kicking off this PMI dedicated day was the privilege of Aviva Healthcare’s MD Steve Bridges, who cited that “the NHS has thus far only recovered to around 50% of pre-pandemic levels”.
A genealogical doctor gave an interesting speech citing that women’s medications need to be prescribed at lesser levels to men’s as they have different metabolisms, as an example, generally having lower alcohol tolerances. Women are also more likely to suffer during their lives from mental health issues due to the effects of the menopause. This medical professional who works in the NHS, stated quite bluntly that “the NHS is a disaster zone at the moment, with staffing issues due to Brexit escalating, and will therefore become much worse next year.”
The talk of this superb PMI industry integrity ensuring day belonged to psychiatrist Dr. Judith Mohring who grabbed the audience’s attention by describing the pandemic as NUTS!
Threat to ego
Sense of control lost
Judith maintained that we’re at the beginning of a mental health shadow pandemic, with 40% of the workforce reporting worsened mental health, whilst 1.1 million now suffering from Long Covid.
22nd Nov’s Guardian newspaper ran an article entitled – NHS to give therapy for depression before medication under new guidelines; Millions of people with mild depression in England should be offered therapy, exercise, mindfulness, or medication before being prescribed anti-depressants, according to the first new NHS guidelines in more than a decade, drafted by The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence. (NICE) According to The Office for National Statistics (ONS) about 1/6 (17%) of adults experienced some form of depression this past summer, compared to pre-pandemic levels of just 1/10. (10%) Younger men & women were found to be more likely to be affected. Figures from the NHS Business services Authority show that more than 20 million anti-depressants were prescribed between October & December 2020 – Representing a 6% increase compared with the same three month period in 2019.
24th Nov’s Cover magazine’s report from Vitality with their ‘Next Best Action’ launch –incentivising good health.
With a personalised data driven approach designed to provide members with the one action that would have the biggest impact upon their future health. This initiative uses data science coupled with Vitality’s understanding of individual health risks to predict which action is likely to have the most significant improvement to a member’s health and long-term lifespan. It then recommends a personalised plan including tailored support via newly created pathways.
So concluding the year that was 2021, just when we were daring to focus upon the seasonal end of year/new year break, this new reportedly more virulent strain called ‘Omicron’ rears it’s ugly head, identified by world class SA virologists, escalating more rapidly than the previous ‘Delta’ variant – Probably being an inditement upon wealthier nations having not done enough to adequately address the immunisation of poorer countries where just 6% reportedly have had 1 dose, compared to 54.4% globally. With the Spanish-Flu viral pandemic of 1919 lasting 2 years till 1921, let’s embrace one final likely lockdown, having temporarily once again enjoyed some ‘conditioned’ relative freedom of movement & travel, being a more challenging time for our immune systems anyway, battening down the ‘health-hatches’ folks, with an end to this dreadful ordeal squarely on the horizon hopefully! Until 2022 please keep well & safe, watching out for family, friends & neighbours, particularly the more vulnerable at this time of year.
Keep warm, safe & well,
Daniel P. Donoghue,
Surrey Circle Health
Specialist PMI Broker